“Doctor Strange is already going to be the most mind-bending Marvel movie of them all. Benedict Cumberbatch as the Sorcerer Supreme will introduce us to powers that we’ve never witnessed (i.e. magic) and dimensions we’ve never traversed, but Marvel will also bend the casting as it sees fit. The transformative Tilda Swinton recently signed on to play the Ancient One, Doctor Strange’s mystic mentor. According to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, this was the perfect opportunity to play with gender.
The Ancient One is traditionally depicted as male, but Feige explained that Marvel saw this figure as more of a mantle than one specific person. He toldBirthMoviesDeath in an interview,
The sorcerers have been around for millennia, protecting us from things we didn’t know about until this story. There have been multiple [Ancient Ones], even if this one has been around for five hundred years, there were others. This is a mantle, and therefore felt we had leeway to cast in interesting ways.
In a time when Marvelites are calling out their favorite movie studio on the lack of female characters in these films, in comes Tilda. (It brings to mind that brief moment in Parks and Recreation: “You got Tilda?!” “We got Tilda.”) The glorified actress is no stranger to gender-bending roles, and one of her biggest strengths is playing characters that require major transformations. (See the witch in Chronicles of Narnia, the archangel Gabriel in Constantine, Madame D. in The Grand Budapest Hotel and Mason in Snowpiercer, to name a few.) Which makes her the perfect candidate to portray such a gender-ambiguous role…”